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Criticism is intensifying in Germany, which is preparing to extend its anti-Covid restrictions, against the vaccine strategy judged, to the government, slow and too dependent on the European Union.
Angela Merkel and the 16 regional states decided on Tuesday to strengthen the restrictions in force and extend them until January 31, when the vaccination campaign will only produce its first effects after winter.
Shops – with the exception of food stores -, restaurants, bars and cultural venues should therefore keep their doors closed in the coming weeks. Schools are also expected to remain mostly closed. The perimeters of authorized travel from his home could also be limited, a drastic measure in Germany.
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But if an extension of these restrictions seems to be a consensus, the vaccine strategy is itself increasingly criticized. More than 264,000 elderly people and nursing staff received a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Monday.
If the vaccination rate is much faster than a number of European neighbors, voices are being raised in Germany to criticize its supposed slowness. Some 44% of Germans would not be convinced by the vaccine strategy, against 40% of confident people according to a Civey poll.
Too much dependence on the EU
Daily picture, the most widely read in Germany, is leading a campaign against the government, accused of having “relied too much on the European Union” to procure vaccines, and of favoring the only Pfizer-BioNTech product to the detriment of the Moderna vaccine .
The controversy escalates even within the government, less than ten months before the elections. Vice-Chancellor and Social Democratic candidate Olaf Scholz thus sent his colleague from Health, the conservative Jens Spahn, a list of questions on the vaccine strategy.
“Why has the European Commission ordered so few vaccine doses in advance? And why parts of the doses not claimed by the EU (…) were not ordered for the Germany? ”Asks Olaf Scholz in particular. “It is still right from my point of view to have taken and to take this European path”, retorts the Minister of Health, promising a supply for all Germans by the summer.
Several vaccination centers, including that of Hamburg, the largest in Germany, go into action on Tuesday. In addition, Germany has deployed 440 vaccinodromes, according to Numerama, very organized vaccination centers. The government is also studying the possibility of extending the period between the two injections as much as possible to allow the vaccination of more patients before the stock runs out.
But, warned the BioNTech laboratory on Tuesday, the maximum effectiveness of the vaccine is not demonstrated if the second injection is delayed. “The efficacy and safety of the vaccine has not been evaluated for other dosing schedules” than the two injections 21 days apart applied during the clinical trial, explained the German company, which developed with the American Pfizer the first vaccine authorized in the United States and in the EU.
Cold in recent months, especially because of the Navalny affair, Russia and Germany are also working on a possible “joint production of vaccines”, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.
The former GDR affected
Considered a European “good pupil” in the management of the first epidemic wave, Germany now has all the trouble to contain the virus, in particular in the Länder of the former GDR. A total of 1.787 million cases have been recorded since the start of the pandemic, which has killed more than 35,000. And the impact of going on vacation and family reunions is not yet known. “There is little room for relaxation,” sums up government spokesman Steffen Seibert.
The situation remains particularly critical in Saxony, a former GDR state-region for a long time resistant to restrictions, the incidence rate of which reached 323 on Monday. Other regions of East Germany, such as Thuringia and Brandenburg are also hit hard.
Cited as an example before the summer, Germany, where an anti-mask movement has emerged mixing vaccine-resistant, followers of conspiracy theories and far-right activists, has not managed since September to take effective measures.
Angela Merkel, whose popularity remains very high with less than a year of leaving the chancellery, has been unable to impose stricter measures on regions worried about the loss of economic activity.